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Natural Beekeeping > General Chat > Varroa


Title: Varroa
Description: Pool experiences


Paul - June 20, 2010 11:48 AM (GMT)
I guess it will only be a matter of time before we all have to face this problem.
I think it may be beneficial for all if we post our experiences/problems in a bid to find the best solution.
I have just read a report that states powdered sugar has little impact. On the other hand, by using chemicals to try to irradicate the mite completely only serves to produce chemical resistant stains of the mite. This, in my opinion is only going to make matters worse. We need to find a way of allowing the bees to manage an infestation naturally. I guess it's back to sugar then?
What thoughts/experiences do you all have?

Beebass - June 20, 2010 02:06 PM (GMT)
I use an anti varroa floor on my National hive. There's a chap who makes really nice oak ones and sells them on eBay. Not a cheap option but they really are a huge improvement on the standard floor. I have been placing sticky film on the slide out floor. Instead of the silly-priced special bee stuff I bought an economy sized roll of book covering film, again from eBay and use that instead. It does get clogged up with debris really quickly though and thus loses it's effectiveness. I have heard people coat the board with old cooking oil and I might give that a try....

I have also used HiveClean/Varroa Stick from Beevital, but I don't really know how effective it is, it's suitable for organic beekeeping so I guess it can't do any harm. BeeVital

Since I've actually had bees in TBHs this season I've been dusting them with sugar every time I have the roof off, I only do the bit I'm inspecting so it's not overkill and, once again, I can't see it doing any harm. Of course the good thing about most TBH's is they have a mesh floor which means the mites are likely to drop straight through and have a tough time climbing back in. I'm only going to fit the optional floor board in the winter months and I'll probably cover it with vegetable oil.

Tavascarow - June 20, 2010 06:00 PM (GMT)
I have been using mesh floors for some time & I'm still using apiguard till I run out.
It's thymol based gel which doesn't kill the mites but irritates them sufficiently to get them to drop off, so no resistance build up as with the old bayvorol/apistan strips (Flumethrin) .
I think beevital & a lot of the other 'natural' remedies are similar.
When I run out of apiguard I'm going to use (again Gareth) LINK .
Having bees that aren't over prolific helps.
Some bees build up so fast & in such high numbers that if you don't treat at the right time they can quickly become infested.
Checking your mite count on a weekly basis is good.
Gives you an indicator of when treatment is necessary.
I've got to be honest & say I don't check my mite drop like I should, but the bees I have are hardy survivors that came from a neglected WBC hive at a friends place & had no varroa treatment (or anything done to them at all) for eight or ten years before I got them so I figure if they survived that, they can survive my lack of diligence.

Beebass - June 20, 2010 06:42 PM (GMT)
I'm with you on this Steve, from the very little I know I get the resounding impression that we interfere far too much :)

Vee - July 4, 2010 11:10 AM (GMT)
Despite sugar puffing fairly frequently I was frightened silly by large daily numbers of varroa dropping (50 or more) from August onwards last year (my first as a beekeeper). I rushed out and bought BeeVital's Hive-Clean (organic) - which brought torrents of them down - 600+ at a go.

I applied treatments weekly till the varroa were (apparently) gone - but it took 6-7 weeks. Since then I've used spacers so I can apply the stuff without too much stress to the bees (or me). Before the spacers I was squirting it in with a hypodermic needle which was a bit hit or miss. Varroa dislike the smell of Hive-Clean and scuttle off - it also encourages the bees to do lots of grooming and I have a fantasy that it tastes nice.

Since then, I've developed OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) as far as varroa go - and inspect my bottom boards daily!!! I've put white plastic inserts 2" below the bottom mesh which have been covered in a slushy-ish mixture of beeswax and vegetable oil (applied with a toothbrush). This works well and is cheap. I scrape the inserts down and re-apply when the rubbbish build-up gets in the way of counting.

Over the winter the counts were 0 - now they're in 0s and 1s for all except one hive - which is usually around 2-4 but has hit 8 and 10 from time to time. Bear in mind the rule of thumb is that for every 1 that drops there are 100 still upstairs! I'm watching keenly.

Fingers crossed for this Autumn... All the best, V

Tavascarow - July 5, 2010 08:55 AM (GMT)
I've just realised the link in my original post wasn't working.
Now fixed it, it's a very informative thread from a beekeeper I have a great deal of respect for.
His recipe (about half way down the first page) is tried & tested, I personally have no fear of using it above manufactured products, in fact I would put more faith in it over manufactured, knowing the originator.
Anything with oxalic acid in is going to be detrimental to bees health.
It's been proven to shorten the life span of bees.
It wont affect honey or wax, but is not a gentle, natural treatment IMHO.

:)

columbinegarden - July 5, 2010 10:04 PM (GMT)
I agree about the oxalic acid. An insecticide for garden use can be made by steeping rhubarb leaves and this is supposed to kill caterpillars, aphids etc, so I'm sure it would harm mites, but not much point if the bees are getting a dose as well!

Nic




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